Jacinta Gatwiri’s story: learning to use solar powered irrigation systems

Photo: Capacity development for solar-powered irrigation
© GIZ/ Jörg Böthling

This article is reposted courtesy of Panorama Solutions. Read the full solution here.

Since 2015, the Toolbox has grown from being a simple Excel-Tool to a comprehensive learning experience available in English, French, Spanish and Arabic. It features tried and tested training modules, an e-learning course, online instruction videos and a pool of trainers who themselves were trained by the Powering Agriculture team. This way, the Toolbox offers different avenues of learning.

From the beginning, the idea was to provide trainings as part of a project or broader curricula. The Toolbox has been integrated into the training curricula of several organisations. As interest in the Toolbox grew, it became clear that a more systematic and sustainable trainer network was needed. The first step towards this was a collaboration with Women in Sustainable Energy and Entrepreneurship (WISEe) in Kenya.

Like in so many other countries, the uptake of renewable energy in Kenya is hindered by inadequate technical support to the rural households. In Kenya, the few qualified solar PV practitioners can primarily be found in big urban centres. Moreover, there are few female technicians. To address this gap, WISEe trained women on basic technical photovoltaics skills, empowering them to educate others, developing entrepreneur skills to set up their own businesses, and making them champions of solar technologies.

“Capacity development is key, because it will ensure that information on solar-powered irrigation trickles down to practitioners and end users rather than remaining in the domain of equipment manufacturers, suppliers and experts,” mentions Jacinta Gatwiri, one of the women trained by WISE.

After a five-day Training of Trainers (ToT) workshop, five women were invited to contribute to and lead the SPIS training workshops. The WISEe trainers can now offer their newly acquired skills as a service to interested organisations. The fact that WISEe was conceptualised and is managed by women to empower women in a largely male-dominated sector makes it a catalyst for change.

Jacinta Gatwiri and her colleagues have by now led multiple trainings on solar-powered irrigation in Kenya and other countries for both GIZ and FAO. “I enjoyed the experience of using flexible teaching methods, and the fact that there was room for trainees to suggest modifications to suit their local needs based on their experiences in the field,” recalls the chairperson of WISEe. Building capacity at the local level has the potential for enhancing collaboration and networking among those trained.


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